Today we went round the bend – the Great Bend that is. It is ranked as one of Hungary’s great scenic attractions but, to be honest, it isn’t really a patch on the gorgeous gorges of Austria. But after 3 days of very little scenic interest it was enough to raise the spirits. The river has cut a wider path through the hills than in the Austrian sections, and there is more development alongside the river.
Our breakfast stop was at Visegrad, with a beautiful view of the river and the local ferry.
This was the best bit of the bend and from there we made our way downriver towards a section where there is a large island in the middle of the river. We had run out of cash and couldn’t afford the ferry so we pressed on to find an ATM and crossed over on a bridge lower down. But this comittment to seeing the island meant we were off the bike route. We cycled down towards the toe of the island having seen that there was a final ferry for the return. This really was the back of beyond. There were tiny villages and little traffic. Finally we reached the end of the road where there were a scattering of old cars, a house, some bikes and a small ferry. The signboard suggested that it ran hourly so we settled down to wait. Actually, knowing that busy Budapest was coming, this was a lovely wait and a chance to think. It really didn’t seem to matter whether the ferry ran or not!
It did. Lunch was duly taken at Szentendre on the other side. Then it was the final section to Budapest. There is always something exciting about entering a new city on a bicycle – I love it – and had been looking forward to seeing Budapest. I was not disappointed. The approach was quite tricky, with heavy traffic. There were bike lanes – but they were not well signposted. When we missed one and ended up on a main road drivers drew alongside to tell us off! Calm down please – we only delayed you by about 5 seconds! The final section along the embankment on the Buda (west) side was a joy, with spectacular views of the castle above us and the Parliament building on the Pest side.
We have booked in at a hotel in a HUGE old apartment building. The hotel is just one small section and is clean and modern and air-conditioned, but the central staircase is huge and decrepit, with a lift that makes the one in our Vienna flat feel modern and safe! You need a head for heights as the lift, the staircase and the internal balconies are all open. We have just been out for a meal and have seen the lights on the river at night. Here is my attempt to photograph the castle. I think it needed a steadier hand – it must have been the wine. We are looking forward to a day off and some more exploration tomorrow.
Helen’s track of the day: Nina Simone, Ain’t Got No -I Got Life, as celebration of getting to Budapest in one piece!